- Check whether an annulment is necessary and how long it will take
- Make sure your fiance is aware of all aspects of your situation
- Make your new spouse your priority
- Time and patience are needed to succeed at step-parenting
Many people remarry after divorce. The divorce rate is even higher for second marriages than for first marriages. Hopefully you understand what when wrong in the first marriage and have found your ideal mate for life.
Step families and blended families
This can be a very complicated but also very rewarding experience.
As a step parent, recognize that the kids already have parents even if you disagree with what they choose to do.
Try to act as a mentor giving guidance to the kids by your actions
Do not criticize the other parent around the kids. Make sure you truly cannot be overheard if you are discussing the other parent.
A step parent can become the calm voice between two feuding parents but beware this can be a very delicate task and can land you in a lot of trouble in your relationship with your new spouse if things go sour. Best to let a professional mediate if things are bad.
For blended families, discuss and decide what rules will be put in place for ALL the kids. Clearly communicate this to them and be consistent with everyone and follow through on any discipline.
Try to treat all the kids as equally as you can. You can make time for your own kids once a week perhaps if you would like but make sure your spouse can do the same and is in agreement.
The situation with ex-spouses can be doubled in blended families. This requires extra patience and skill in negotiating and communication.
Perhaps you had the big wedding in your first marriage and are now happy with a simple civil ceremony. Is your fiance also of the same opinion? If it is their first marriage they may want the big wedding with all the extras. Involve your kids if you have any.
You may find relatives who may have attended the first wedding and may not want to attend the second one. Don't take it personally. If the two families live far apart or even in different countries, it may be difficult or expensive for a lot of people to travel. Consider having two ceremonies or a wedding in one place and a party for the other family. Consider having it at a neutral location that is not too expensive to travel to or to stay in.
Difficulty with your divorced parents
If your parents themselves are divorced as is more common nowadays, there may be awkwardness or even outright conflict between them. Talk to them each individually and judge how they will behave. Ask them for solutions to problems such as who will walk you down the aisle or seating arrangements or speeches if they raise those as reasons they feel uncomfortable. Be very careful if one or both offer to pay for all or part of the wedding that this does not turn into another way to fight with each other.
If they are using finances to fight, consider paying for the wedding yourself. This may mean you have to down scale the wedding but it may be a much happier affair without that conflict. Recruit relatives to make sure they behave on the day.
Ex wife versus new wife
If you had children by your first marriage then you likely still have to deal with out ex wife. After remarriage it is not unusual for the ex wife and new wife not to get along. You may find yourself caught in the middle. Worse your kids may find themselves caught in the middle having to choose sides. Your new spouse is now your priority. Other than parenting, she must come first.
You must have clearly informed her of your parenting arrangement before you got married and she must accept the restrictions that come with that arrangement and with having kids around even if they are not hers. Both of you must realize that being a step parent is not easy and patience is required. If there is a lot of friction, try to minimize their interactions. If the friction is now causing problems between you and your new spouse, get help early. Go to therapy or other quality sources of advice and guidance.